Perhaps Lantau’s most enduring feature, besides its beaches and mountain scenery, is its hiking trails which are ‘world class’, certainly among the best in Asia. Many of these trails are also designated mountain bike trails, which is a boon for local bikers, who relish the opportunity to get off-road and back to nature.
The coastal trail from Mui Wo to Shap Long and the Lantau South Water Catchment maintenance road, which runs from above San Shek Wan all the way to Fan Lau, are popular with mountain bikers. Another popular trail is the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail, which boasts the incredible scenery of Pui O Beach below and Lantau’s mountains above. Few bikers use the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail during the week, although at the weekends it gets busy. Groups of up to 10 bikers are a common sight, always with the leader well ahead of the pack and a few stragglers at the back. No one’s in competition and everyone is there to have a good time, but a difference in skill levels and equipment dictates the pecking order.
Mountain bikers enjoy the scenery that comes with the occasionally rough terrain. While the setting is picturesque, the stones and rocks beneath the bike wheels add to the challenge and the ‘naturalness’ of the experience. The only noticeable manmade features, drainage channels which run across the trail at intervals, are unobtrusive and fairly easy to ride over.
Lantau’s mountain biking community is eagerly anticipating the completion of a new 45,000 square-metre mountain bike training facility, which will expand and create a network of mountain biking trails in Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan. There will also be a new training ground in Lai Chi Yuen Tsuen, which will include different kinds of technical features, such as sharp bends and gravel ramps, for mountain bikers of varying abilities. Construction of the training ground in Lai Chi Yuen Tsuen began in November 2017, and it will be open to the public by late 2019, or early 2020.
Steve Coward runs CrosscountryHK, which has provided mountain bike trips and training in Hong Kong since 2007. While the business is based in Lantau, most of the training and trips are held in Tai Lam Country Park near the Gold Coast—although Steve is expecting the new mountain bike training facilities on Lantau to change that. “Up until now the trails on Lantau—although excellent—mostly catered to more experienced riders,” says Steve. “But the new park just above Mui Wo will cater to all levels and all ages. After it opens, we will base more of our training and trips there.”
Lantau resident, and avid mountain biker, Brandon Lee is a member of ‘Lantau’s Finest,’ a group of mountain bikers who pride themselves on being some of the “best bikers in Lantau.” Brandon started mountain biking in Malaysia as a teenager, and has been riding on Lantau since 2014. “The mountain biking community in Lantau is amazing; everyone is friendly and like-minded,” says Brandon. “I’m excited for the new bike park in Mui Wo. I think it will add to the camaraderie; everyone’s got the same passion, and we will all be there to enjoy ourselves.”
As Hong Kong’s largest island, mountain bikers need to plan ahead for their rides on Lantau, as some parts of the trails are remote and secluded and riders may not see another person for an hour or two. “If you’re riding alone, you have to be aware that help might be pretty far away. When you have a tire that has just exploded, you need to have the equipment to fix it,” says Brandon. “Biking can be a very expensive sport in Hong Kong, but you need proper equipment that won’t fail you in the middle of a trail.”
Lantau has a number of bike shops to support the biking community and help introduce new people to the sport. In Mui Wo, The Friendly Bike Shop sells bikes and bike accessories, and offers
bike maintenance services. It also has around 60 well-maintained mountain bikes for both men and women for rental. Established in 2003, Sunny Mountain Bike Shop in Tung Chung provides bicycle rental, cleaning, upgrades and maintenance, plus bike and component sales. It also offers biking instruction and advice and monthly bicycle parking for those who don’t have room for their mountain bike in their flat.
In Discovery Bay, Tony Kwong has channeled his 20- year passion for mountain biking into the Bike Hub in DB North Plaza. Opened in June 2018, the shop is a one-stop bike hub for the DB community, offering not only equipment and repairs, but also multi-level workshops and courses of eight or 12 weeks. “You can bring in a bike for service, rent a bike, build your dream bike, buy or service kids’ bikes,” says Tony. “More than that, it’s a meeting place for the biking community – a friendly, welcoming space that encourages biking culture and an active lifestyle.”
For more information about the new mountain biking training facilities on Lantau, including maps of new trails, visit www.cedd.gov.hk/eng/our-projects/major-projects.
• CrosscountryHK, www.mtbhk.com
• Facebook: Friendly Bicycle Shop
• Sunny Mountain Bike Shop: www.sunnybike.com.hk
• The Bike Hub: bikehub.club
Tags: biking, Hong Kong, lantau, mountain biking, trails